Category Archives: writing

Whoa…two years? Really Kelly? >.<

I started this blog nine years ago, after on my last teaching practice in my hometown, my husband set it up so that I could write about whatever I felt like. It was such a godsend to have a place that I knew was mine, and felt safe. Over the years, I let things make it feel unsafe for me, and after a couple of years of pretty good, solid blogging, I just sort of…stopped.

It’s hard to start back up again when you look back over how long it’s been since you did anything, and realise it’s been almost two years.

I didn’t write anything at all last year. Not here at least. I’m not entirely sure why to be honest. It certainly isn’t because my life hasn’t been interesting. I think maybe it’s just become only interesting to me. Or that’s how it’s felt.

I also often feel like I’m being disingenuous, because typically my writing has always been very personal, and putting it online for people to read and pass judgement over filled me with horror. I’ve always sort of brushed things under the carpet. Things that feel too personal, or like I will be judged badly because of my honesty.

I’m at a place in my life now, where other people’s opinions of me no longer matter. I’m almost 40 and I can’t believe that I’ve come all this way only to still feel shame and fear over certain aspects of who I am.

I know that I write my best stuff when I’m being honest, and I kind of needed a really huge kick in the butt to get myself organised. I also needed some inspiration, a change of scenery – because moving to Australia wasn’t enough apparently. So my husband took me to the Philippines and it was amazing.

I’m half way through my second book edit, by the way. That’s still happening. I have to keep reminding myself to stop editing and thinking about everything that’s wrong with it, and just continue writing. I know what needs to be fixed, but then I think about fixing it and end up sighing in despair and putting my creative energy into other things. So the book comes along super slowly. But it comes along…so, there’s that!

worst blogger in the world award

Goes to me right?

I thought so.

Here are some random facts to entertain you for the next month. *sigh* I will get better at this I promise.

  • I currently have 8 windows open on my laptop. Of those 8 windows, one is called All About Cannibalism, and one is called Ancient People, The People of Ireland. I will let you make your own judgement calls on this one.
  • It rains in Australia. A LOT. Like, a lot a lot. So much so that I actually forget I’m in Australia until that freaking bird starts up at 5am and reminds me, that no birds in New Zealand ever sounded like that, ever and none of them were rude enough to do that noise EVERY DAMN MORNING!!!!!! I’ve never hated a bird before in my life…UNTIL NOW!
  • I got a job working at Ollie’s cousin’s dessert cafe. It’s so much fun! And so full on, and at the end of the night, they feed me dessert! This does not bode well for my waistline, but it certainly bodes well for my tastebuds and my sanity and my mental health. You probably don’t understand this, unless you’re a dessert person in which case, I don’t need to tell you anything else.
  • Now that I’ve spoken about that bird, I am imagining I can hear it barking/grating its nails down the blackboard/screaming/burping in my ear. If I had to describe its noise, that would be it. You have no idea how much I wish it would die. We were looking up buying an air gun, that’s how bad it is! Alas…these are illegal in Australia, but slingshots are not!
  • Back to the weather! Right now, it’s raining so hard I’m  having trouble keeping my eyes open. It’s also massively windy. It’s like mother nature is having a really bad trip at her rave party and crying and throwing up everywhere. *rubs her back and holds her hair out of the way for her*
  • My writing is coming along, very ponderously. Slowly does it. That’s the way. But I have a feeling its about to start picking up again soon. I can’t tell you why…because my husband is very private about things and would prefer I didn’t tell the world he just got a JOB!
  • Whoops. How exciting though!!!! He starts on Monday! YAY!
  • Oh! And I cut off all my hair. New beginnings and all that. I feel very Marilyn Monroe some days. When I manage to take a non-derpy photo, I will share it with you.

On bravery and editors.

Look! Two posts in one month! I know, you’re very spoiled. I hope that you’re paying attention to how much I love you all.

I realised what my real problem has been in terms of finishing my book. I got lost. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, and couldn’t stop thinking about all the plot holes and the many things I wanted to say but hadn’t. That has been making finishing the book extremely hard. So instead of waste my time idling away days in the way I have been (playing computer games, sleeping in, rolling around like a slug watching tv and angsting over life, the universe and my place in it) I did something about it!

I took some serious research steps and starting thinking about what it is I really want. What I need to do and how I’m going to get there. I read and read many different blogs and sites and learned all about the different kinds of editors and what you’re supposed to do, and how to get published and where to start, and I contacted an editor.

A pretty big name editor. An editor who I’d been reading about for some months and who I’d decided was way out of my league. Why, I wondered, would someone with such big name authors under his belt want to work with little old me?

Anyway, I left a question on one of his posts, and he replied! So I emailed him and told him my story idea, and felt pleased with myself for being so brave. I never expected to hear back from him at all, but an hour or so later, there in my email….is a response! A positive response! A ‘please send me your manuscript’ response!

Oh my gosh! What? Totally taken aback I sat there making weird noises at Ollie, and eventually worked up the nerve to send off my manuscript. Two days later he got back to me and told me that he’d like to work with me, and I rolled around all over the place in shock and surprise and total excitement.

He had a lot of things to say, and I’ll be meeting with him early next month to discuss where to go and how to fix the very many things that have gone wrong in my novel and I am so excited! I was starting to doubt myself and to have someone who has worked with some very big names out there tell me my ideas are good and that he’d like to work with me is such a huge boost!

I’m super proud of myself for following through, even though I was certain that someone of his caliber wouldn’t take me on. This being brave business suits me, I think.

Good job Kelly!

I am really bad at this blogging thing Internet.

I think it’s just because my life is uncommonly boring at the moment, which is odd, since I have moved to a new country and one would imagine that my life is full of riveting things to tell you. I’m not sure what to say in response to that, except that…it kind of isn’t.

Same shit, different city really. The thing about having decided to write full time is, I don’t have any hilarious work place stories to share with you. Because I’m working from home.  So I’m going to talk to you about how that’s going.

Most of you know that I’m a huge procrastinator. I found this great post by this super interesting guy called David. He wrote about procrastination on the Thought Catalogue. He writes: “It turns out procrastination is not typically a function of laziness, apathy or work ethic as it is often regarded to be. It’s a neurotic self-defense behavior that develops to protect a person’s sense of self-worth.” – It’s a great read, I encourage you all to go on over there and read it.

Anyway, I have been using my neurotic self-defence behaviours to protect my sense of self-worth for quite some time now.

I am so close to having the first draft of my novel done. Like, seriously close. What happened is, way back when I decided to really give this a proper go, I worked like a demon on getting the ending written, and then hated every little bit of it. It was a total cop out. It was a forced ending to a story I wasn’t entirely sure how to finish, and it made me really frustrated and unhappy. But I was finished right? So it was all going pretty well.

That meant that I could realistically take myself back to the beginning of the novel and start to fix up a few typos and errors and all those boring bits that repeated themselves. But the whole way through, I’ve been unhappy with the ending. So I deleted the whole thing when I made my way back there, and am currently in the process of rewriting it.

It’s great, I’m liking it, and I hope you will too. It doesn’t feel forced any more, and it’s working itself out into a slow progression of proper endingness. I’m happy with it. I am enjoying writing it. So, why am I still procrastinating?

Good question.

I got back into it today, and I was checking out the last time I’d written anything on it. I’d been very impressed with myself for having finished a chapter and having written another good 1700 odd words. The date was 14 March and I sat here today, congratulating myself on having written so much only four days ago and then getting back into it again. I was quite surprised that those four days had felt so much longer than they really were.

And then I checked the date and realised that today is actually the 18th of April, not March and it’s been an entire MONTH since I last wrote anything! Ahh procrastination. Ahh the joys of working from home! Days all blend together and the next thing you know, a whole month has gone by and you’re still procrastinating over finishing your work. It’s really hard you know. I love to work to deadlines. As much as I always say that I don’t, I do. Because I have always completed my work by the due date – well, on the due date. Usually with only a few minutes to spare.

The problem is, I’m only responsible to myself right now, and I am the Queen of irresponsibility. For goodness sake, I had my first child when I was 19! I am far more likely to get up in the morning and decide to spend the day faffing around online, playing computer games and if you’re lucky, baking something less than extraordinary.

There’s also this dog…for the past two weeks, it’s barked incessantly from about 9am to well after sundown. Every damn day. And, now it’s the school holidays, so the kids are home. And, Ollie’s home all day everyday too. I have housework to do, and people to feed, and music to listen to and gardens to pretend to work in, and spiders to imagine are lurking in every crevice. Oh, you have no idea how exhausting it all is!

Yeah, see? Are you seeing my problem now?

I have a feeling that once I have this first book out of the way and thrust out into the world for people’s reading pleasure/horror, this whole writing thing will become a little easier. It’s just this first time, you know? My fragile self-worth is completely tied up in this first novel, and I’m scared to death that it’s not going to come out reading like all my hopes and dreams.

So it’s a lot easier to sit and procrastinate on it, and wander through life blissfully doing all manner of other things.  But I promise it’s coming. I’m about two and a half chapters away from having this end completed. It reads really well, I’m happy with it.  I’m giving myself a couple more months to go through the second and third edits before I start handing it out to beta readers and once I’ve gauged an opinion, I’ll be working towards finding an editor – I have three potential people here in Adelaide I’m considering right now, and then hopefully, hopefully it will be ready to release into the world.

Thanks for sticking with me. You guys are all awesome.

Much love
Kelly x

Django Unchained: a vignette.

I need to get better at writing here. So I’m trying something new. I read a quote by John Berendt the other day which struck a chord with me. He said: “Keep a diary, but don’t just list all the things you did during the day. Pick one incident and write it up as a brief vignette. Give it color, include quotes and dialogue, shape it like a story with a beginning, middle and end—as if it were a short story or an episode in a novel.”

It sounds like fun, so I figured I’d give it a try.

Sometimes I read the time as I imagine it to be. I thought the film started at 1.30, it actually started at 1.10. It was too late to make it by the time Ollie checked up on me to see if I was wrong, again. We both know I usually am. So we decide we’ll see something else instead.

Driving half way across the city in 35 degree heat, our conversation inspired by the judgemental stares that heavily tattooed women receive and Amina’s bare chested protest against the continuously misread patriarchal view of Islamic sharia. Topics as heated as the weather outside. I watch the train tracks stretching in each direction, dry lawns, browning trees and the bright contrast of rainbow coloured birds in an otherwise stark landscape. People run around in the sweltering mid-March heat and I consider how lucky I am to be married to a man whose views match mine.

We arrive with minutes to spare. He asked for tickets to Django Unchained, pronouncing the D. I look on in pretend horror as the guy serving us hands over our tickets and pronounces it correctly without missing a beat. “It’s Django!” I say as we walk away, “the D is silent.” He realises the joke a little into the film, as Jamie Foxx repeats the line.

The theatre has five other patrons. It’s my favourite kind of theatre experience. I haven’t seen a Tarantino film in years. I know what to expect. I think back to the first one I ever saw. Heavily pregnant with my first daughter, my father and I made a weekly date to see a film together. This night, I chose Pulp Fiction.

I was hooked. Tarantino is a genius. We laughed and were shocked and talked about it for a long time afterwards. The lights dim, the theatre is ours, we’re at the back and the armrests can be lifted. I lift mine and curl up beside my husband.

We’re not let down. The film is pure genius from start to finish. It ticks all my boxes. It’s funny, it’s dark, the losing side wins. I have to shield my eyes from the screen a handful of times and the music is perfect. Tarantino’s cameo is possibly the best one yet.

When we leave the theatre, the mall is cool. The doors open and hot air floods in. It’s a backwards experience for me. For a moment I’m confused, and then I remember I live in a new country now.

To This Day

phillip

 

When I was little, we moved into a house in a newly developed neighbourhood. It was just an average neighbourhood with some state built houses and some private built houses. I guess you would say that it was the lower side of the middle class range. Every house on our street was occupied by young families. It was just one street really. Built into the side of a hill which at the time was full of empty lots and provided ample space for all of us to explore and make huts and set up boundaries where only our groups were allowed. We ran wild in the streets until well after dark, Lord of the Flies style.

There were no shortages of kids to play with. I was one of the younger kids – my siblings both 6 and 9 years older than me were in a different stage of childhood than me – not that that stopped them from letting me tag along and be part of their groups.

There is a strong hierarchy in built into childhood. A ranking of how cool people are, of who is worth playing with, and who isn’t. A solid foundation of bullying that no one really takes any real notice of at the time it’s happening, because being mean is so fun for those who are the ones being mean. They don’t really stop to think about what their meanness does to their victims, not at that age. It’s all just a game.

I had a friend growing up called Phillip. He was one of the kids who wasn’t considered cool. In fact, he and his brother were probably the two kids most picked on in our neighbourhood. We’d have ‘wars’ against neighbouring kids. It was always really serious, and I never understood it. I remember being told off by my fellow allies when I’d cross enemy lines to play with someone new. “You can’t DO that Kelly!” “You’re on OUR side, you can’t just SWAP SIDES!”

“Why not?” I’d ask and always be greeted with “because that’s not how it works.”

But I always wanted to know WHY. Why wasn’t it the way it worked? Why couldn’t we all get along? Why were people so mean to others? I never really suffered anything other than exasperation at my constant defying of the rules. My siblings protected me.

Phillip was the oldest of two boys in his family. He was a year or two younger than I was. Every one called him Shit Lip – it rhymes with Phillip, see? The things they said about him were awful. They accused him of having dropped his little brother on his head, causing his little brother’s “slowness”. I never knew if that was true or not, but I liked Phillip.

When everyone else was gone, I would go to Phillip’s house and I remember knocking on his door and being scared of his father’s reaction. I never really understood why his father would storm to the door looking as if he was going to beat the shit out of whoever was knocking on it – until quite recently. Whenever he saw me, his face would soften and he would smile and ask me if I wanted to come inside.

Phillip’s mum made the yummiest cakes. They gave me juice and fed me sweets and Phillip and I played happily together for hours.

As we grew older, the taunting still happened. I don’t know what school he ended up going to, but it wasn’t mine. I don’t know if Phillip was a victim of bullying at school as well as when he got home, but I do know that we just sort of drifted away from each other and I never really thought much about him.

I remember those days I spent with him pretty fondly though. I remember the feeling of pleasure I would get whenever I defied the rules of our war games and played with the kids we weren’t supposed to play with. I remember how hard my mum worked to make sure I didn’t join in any teasing. I don’t actually remember this photo being taken. I don’t remember Phillip coming to our house much. I know he was pretty scared to leave his property at all because of the way the hoards of kids would taunt him. Calling him Shit Lip, telling him he was the reason for his brother’s slowness. They made up cruel poems about how it happened, and I listened to it all and wondered why.

About 10 years ago, Phillip committed suicide. He’d climbed high up into a tree and hung himself. High enough that the search team never saw him. His father had been going out with them every day to try to find him – this day he happened to look up.

Every time I think of Phillip, I think of how hard things were on his parents. His mother was such a sweet and quiet woman, I never saw much of her aside from when she came to give us cakes. His father always seemed like such an angry man, but I have absolutely no doubts that he was the way he was because of how the neighbourhood kids treated his boys. I remember being told of the arguments his parents had, and now I think I understand why that was. Of course they were fighting, how could they not be?

Those stories turned to his father too. How he was such a bastard, how badly he treated his family, about the yelling people would hear coming from their house. I think about how kind he was when I came to play, and how welcoming he was. How much he loved to see my face at his door and to see me playing with his son. I think about how he must have looked when he found his son hanging from a tree at the age of about 24. Of how helpless Phillip’s parents must have felt because of a bunch of mean kids who saw weakness in their son and exploited it. Of how much pain and humiliation Phillip went through in his short life.

I wonder what sort of man he’d be now, because he was a fucking sweet boy who never complained about how the other kids treated him. He never said a word to me about it. He was always willing to play my imaginary games and keep me company. We mostly did the things I wanted to do, and he played my games without ever complaining if they were too girly or boring. He let me into his life and became an important part of mine.

I always regretted the fact that we drifted apart. Going to different schools and having different things in your life will do that I guess. It hurt so bad when I found out he had died. To have gone through such callous and horrible bullying and to only find one way out is intolerably cruel.

This one is for you Phillip. For you, and for all the other countless people out there who were and are being bullied. There are always people who love you. People who want to be your friend. People who will look past the cruel things that other people are saying and see the real you. I’m sorry it wasn’t enough.

Thank you Shane Koyczan for being such an incredible voice for those kids who don’t have one of their own. x

Thoughts of a Zombie Sympathiser

2012-06-21 14.17.57

 

Last year I was working in a high school, as an English and Media Studies ‘learning advisor’. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and like many writers – I’ve had a lot of jobs. This one was different every single day, and I got to work with some incredibly amazing students and other learning advisors.

I taught a media studies senior paper on zombies. In the first five weeks, we learned all about George A Romero‘s films, how he used film techniques, for what purpose he used them and how they suited the subgenre of horror – the zombie film.

In the second part of the course, we looked into making our own short zombie films and movie trailers. I have never had so much fun in my life. The course was such a success and the students really got involved! It was so exciting for me to see people truly engage with my class. We had make up artists who weren’t class members come in on their free time to help us with make up. The above photo is credit to some amazing young people whose talents in make up and stage effects just blew me away.

I don’t believe in teaching and not taking part. Besides, who hasn’t wanted to be a zombie? You have to lead by example, and this was perhaps the most fun day I had at work, ever. Of course, I forgot to take anything to remove my make-up with, and it just so happened that that particular day was also a staff meeting day. Good times.

A lot of people don’t understand why I have such an attraction to zombies. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I did a course on Supernatural literature and film last year. Fantastic subject to study by the way!

A good ten odd years ago, Ollie introduced me to the zombie film by way of 28 Days Later. I’ve talked about this quite a bit in the past. I didn’t want to watch it, because zombies seemed like a stupid monster to me. But I got hooked. They’ve become increasingly popular over the past few years – and especially moreso with the introduction of The Walking Dead, adapted from the comic book series by Robert Kirkman.

So what is it, I like about zombies so much?

I think it’s that the zombie is still fully human. They don’t transform into anything like werewolves and vampires do. They remain essentially human. Just dead. Unlike a lot of people, I’m not into zombie films and books for the killing or the violence. I know that sounds pretty contradictory, since the entire essence of a zombie comes about through death. But it’s more than that. If you’ve seen George A Romero’s films, you’ll know that the zombies portrayed in his film take on a personality of their own. They become the symbol of the masses. Confused, dumbed down crowds of humans intent on one thing, consumption.

By the end of his storyline, you feel sorry for the zombie. You’re forced to see the living as the real monsters. I guess you could say, I’m a zombie sympathiser. I like the zombie – much like I like all other monsters of myth and fairytale. The creatures who are misunderstood and hunted for being different. But in zombie films, you also have a small group of survivors. A group of people who fight for their lives and their choices and the right to be different from the rest of the population. The people who don’t want to end up mindless eating machines. The people who can still think, feel and act for themselves. The people who are not just fighting to stay human, but who also end up having to fight other humans in order to keep their humanity. Something you see them struggle with internally as different groups each try to form their own new civilisations – governments who end up warring against one another until only the strongest and ‘best’ survive.

Nothing symbolises the decline of human nature and the base destruction of resources better than the zombie apocalypse. Nothing shows humanity in quite the same way as a human being stripped of both consciousness and life itself, only to be brought back as a cannibalistic, disease spreading eating machine.  The great thing about zombies is that they are a relatively new monster.  There isn’t a folkloric history outside of the Voudon practice. Unlike other monster mythology which traversed cultures, the zombie came straight from Africa to the Americas and has been shaped into the symbol of the human fall from grace. Our not so distant dystopian future if we continue to be mindless about how we treat each other, and the world around us.

It’s not the carnage and killing that appeals to me. It’s the fact that the zombie represents that human in all of us. The consumeristic, world defiling, destroyer of life. I have empathy towards the zombie because in them, I see all of us, and I’m very interested in the reactions that people have towards the genre itself. The violence they think up, the way that they simply choose to ignore the fact that it all comes down to a brutal, mindless violence. That they don’t see past the zombie make-up and pick up the underlying messages.

Teaching that course gave me a huge insight into the workings of young people’s minds. Some of them truly got it, they understood what it meant, and loved the films for both the shock factor, the horror and the uncanniness. The ‘what if’ factor. “What if this happened?” “What’s your zombie apocalypse plan?” “What would you do?”  “Would YOU survive?” Their ability to creatively think and rationalise their own humanity and how to live in a world like that was pretty fascinating. I learned as much from them, as they learned from me.

What is survival anyway? And who are the real survivors?

it’s just a different style of living

I’ve been reading a lot lately. A LOT, a lot. As in pretty much everything I can get my hands on. Cook books, novels, short stories, blogs, biographies, poetry, websites, the backs of food cartons and even some instructions. I KNOW.

I think it’s because I’m having trouble actually focussing enough to sit down and write. I do a little bit, but nothing that’s actually thought provoking or creative. Just general chatty stuff and a lot of moaning. It’s really hot here in Adelaide. I don’t know why I didn’t expect that, but I really didn’t. I figured I was a heat rat. You know, the kind of person who did better in warm climates. I’d been living in Christchurch for 16 years. I spent my entire twenties and half of my thirties there. Before that, I’d been in Nelson, and a teenager. My life consisted of a lot of weekends spent swimming at the river or in the ocean, and basking for hours in the sun.

Christchurch was a completely different environment. It was mostly grey, and we were never close to a beach or any rivers that were worth swimming in. I had small children, I didn’t drive and I was coming to terms with how different my life was from what I’d imagined it would be, in a city that seemed grey and cold. I’ve never really found it easy to make friends, and because I couldn’t get around all that easily, it was pretty tough. So the idea of moving some place warm filled me with total joy!

Don’t get me wrong, it still does. I love the fact that there is so much sun here. That I can go to the beach and actually get IN the water because it’s warm enough to do that. But I still wasn’t really prepared for just how hot Australia is. My mum said something the other day, it seems simple enough, but I tend to get lost in my own whining and forget I’m an adult. She said “it’s just a different style of living”.

I don’t adjust all that well to change, but I was definitely ready for one. The past two years were strange, and interesting, some of it was awful, some of it was amazing, but it was time to move on and everything kept pointing towards the fact that that’s exactly what we needed to do. Australia didn’t seem like such a big lifestyle change. It really is though.

I had a lot of plans. I was going to start being a morning person for one. THAT hasn’t happened. The problem is, we don’t really have a bedroom here. The loft, which sits over the kitchen and living area, is all open, so it’s not particularly quiet or private. It is also so hot that Ollie and I have probably spent about 7 nights up there since we moved in. Our bedroom is mostly the lounge. This sofa bed lounge suite is most definitely one of the best things we thought about doing. I don’t know what we’d do if we didn’t have a bed to retreat to on these hot nights. It’s not very easy to get to sleep, so those extra hours in the morning are still as important to me as they ever have been. *sigh*

It’s taken a lot more time to settle in than I thought it would. And as much as I adore this little house, it just doesn’t feel like home. It belongs to someone else, there’s no easy way for us to hang pictures, and it’s hard to really make it feel like it’s ours – when it isn’t. The heat is oppressive too, so we can’t really have people around yet because you just sit in here sweating like you’ve just run a marathon! Never imagined I’d ever say this, but I am so looking forward to Autumn finally catching up with us and cooling down this place. I’m not used to sleeping in my own bed! That’s crazy talk to me! I’ve slept far more often on the sofa bed than I have in my own bed.

But in saying all of that. I love it here. I really do. Things are a lot more accessible in this city. It’s only a 10 minute bike ride to the city centre which I wasn’t sure of at first, but now I really love. And when they say that Adelaide is the 20 minute city, they’re not lying. Pretty  much anywhere you want to go is only a 20 minute drive away.

The food here is to die for too. It’s all so fresh and so easily accessible. I’ve tried foods here that I had never even heard of at home. I’m sure we had it, but I have no idea where you’d have found it. Here, you just go to the markets and it’s all there.

I feel bad that I complain so much about the weather. I am sure that our poor family members think I hate it here. It’s not that at all. I just got used to the cold I suppose, and we’ve been stuck in the same rut for so long that breaking some of the habits we’ve formed has been incredibly difficult.

I needed to figure out how to work through this exhausting heat, and that’s what I’ve been doing rather than any real writing. I’ve been working out a lot and trying to change some of the extremely bad and damaging habits I’d sunk into, with some really amazing results.

The last time I went to the doctors in NZ, I was overweight, had high cholestrol and blood pressure (something I’ve never had in my life – my blood pressure has always been extremely low), and I was pre-diabetic. Insulin resistant. It was actually pretty devastating to realise what kind of a state I’d let myself get into over the last couple of years. I gave up my blog..I turned away from a lot of things and people I cared about and never really realised just how depressed and stressed out I was.

Now that I’m away from all of that, I can look back and see why I did the things I did. Since we moved here, I’ve started to do more, I’ve changed my diet and I had a range of blood tests done a few weeks ago. When I went back for the results, everything…EVERYTHING came back normal. Normal blood pressure, good cholesterol levels, good sugars and I’m losing the weight I gained. In the course of two months, my health is back to normal. I literally cured myself from becoming diabetic!

I’m really proud of myself actually. I was pretty down about my health, and I fixed it, just by having the opportunity to think about what I’m doing to myself, instead of worrying about what was going to happen next.

I’m looking forward to being able to put more energy into writing now. Because if I can do that for my health in this hot little house, then I can do anything! *flexflex*

Waiting for the Miracle (or some cool weather..which would be a miracle)

I really wanted to update more than once a month, but it’s just so HOT here internet.

The room we have the computers in is the hottest room in the house, which means that if I am out here for any length of time, all I’m really doing is wilting and looking at pretty things instead of being creative and thoughtful and writing!

Speaking of writing, that has come to a little bit of a halt. Obviously moving countries has given me reason to be lax. Terry Brooks says it the best really: “Fiction writing is a twenty-four-hour-a-day occupation. You never leave your work behind. It is always with you, and to some extent, you are always thinking about it. You don’t take your work home; your work never leaves home. It lives inside you. It resides and grows and comes alive in your mind.”

This is pretty much exactly where I’m at right now. I have been writing notes and thinking up plots and fixing the holes in my head, but I haven’t actually written anything yet. It’s so hot! Hot hot hot! And when it’s not hot, you get this little moment of pure pleasure where you go “let’s go out!”

We are doing a lot of things here at the moment. Starting new routines, becoming better at cooking, eating, shopping and living. It’s gone past the holiday stage but not completely. We are still sort of figuring out what it is we’re all about in this new country, and finding the cohabitation with large bugs and HUGE SPIDERS all a bit overwhelming really.

In saying that though, Siobhan and I are back to dancing, and really loving it! We are being very challenged which is great, and have a beautiful and inspiring group of people to dance with. We are hyped and even go on the super hot days when we’re likely to die. Which is pretty much exactly what I did this week.

I am however, determined to get my fitness levels back up to something. Anything!

It’s a very long story, the short of which is that stress and unhappiness and quakes and almost losing my husband along with just normal day to day life crept up and kicked me in the arse. I put on a LOT of weight and stopped looking after myself. Actually, if I’m going to be honest, I haven’t looked after myself in YEARS. I dieted on chocolate and coffee and lost 10kgs. But ruined my health in the process. I was tired and weak and my last doctors visit announced that my normalcy of low blood pressure was well and truly gone. I had high blood pressure and cholesterol and have become insulin resistant.

This has been pretty devastating for me, but I have no one to blame but myself. And my first instinct was to throw a complete childish paddy and eat everything and anything in sight. Which meant I piled on the 10kgs I lost again and felt even worse. The moving business didn’t really help. In those last few months, we ate a lot of take aways and fast foods, and I wondered and lamented and wailed and gnashed my teeth wondering why I’d put on all this weight, and bitching about how life wasn’t fair.

It’s taken me a few months to admit to myself that it’s my own damn fault and to face up to the consequences like the adult I strive hard not to be. The past three weeks have been hell. I have been slowly trying to repair this damage, and making choices that contradict a lifetime of bad habits. It’s been hard, but I’m getting there, slowly. People always say “you didn’t put on that weight overnight, you won’t lose it overnight”.  The truth is though, you always feel like you DID put it on overnight, and when it doesn’t just come off over night, it can be really demoralising.

Exercising in this heat is something else. Today I had sweat literally pouring off me. Running down my back! I do not like to sweat at all, but despite all my inner protests I did it, and 44 minutes later was on the floor doing ab and back work.

Yeah, I’m proud and showing off.

I feel a lot better than I ever have. Particularly now that my withdrawls over lack of salt and sugar have worn off. I no longer really crave chips or chocolate. I never, ever thought I’d say that. Ever!

So, I hope that you’ll forgive me my lack of actual writing right now. I am reading a TON of books and keeping up with writerly type things, and considering attending a full day writing workshop coming up in March, and definitely, definitely still living in my world with my characters and planning their next moves. They are far from forgotten.

I have also become a lot more confident with driving a GINORMOUS car we’re borrowing from family in this GINORMOUS (don’t even laugh – there’s a million more people here than there were in Christchurch, it’s HUGE) city…AND I have a bike, which I totally adore, and I know where the library is.

So if my husband does not get his arse off that computer chair next to mine and get out to work, I will leave him behind for the glorious, and air conditioned deliciousness of our local library.

God. Why aren’t I there right now?

*melts*

Tahunanui

I wrote this story for a competition, it wasn’t placed which means I can now share it with you. 🙂

There are sandcastles being built here under the instructions of a stern blonde four year old and a solemn, two year old perfectionist. I look up from our work to watch as a giant black and tan sea beast pounds up the wet sand towards me. Her jowls flinging saliva and sea foam. My husband laughs as she gallops by at full speed, the stick he threw into a choppy ocean all but forgotten in her unbridled joy.

Her paws are too big for her, she’s only a year old and already weighs 60kgs. Bum wiggling excitedly as she leans her weight against me and drops her tailless wet rump into my lap. “Be careful Mabel!” My oldest daughter scolds. “You’ll break the castle!” My youngest girl breaks one apart with her plastic spade, a sly grin on her cheeky round face as her sister turns to shout at her.

Pushing the wet dog out of my lap, she races back down the beach like a battering ram. Terrifyingly huge and as gentle as a lamb, while my husband calls her name and races her back towards greengrey waves, rolling in and sliding down wet banks of ochre sand.

I’m reminded of our youth. Desperate to catch one another’s attention, singing and laughing as waves break over a darkened beach. He’s showing off for me, doing handstands, holding himself up, falling down again. By the time we’re ready to go home, his mother’s car keys are lost in the sand. We spend hours searching on hands and knees before a chagrined walk home to explain what happened to my future mother in law.

He’s running through the waves now with a giant puppy hot on his heels. Keys are firmly entrenched in my bag, and not his shorts.

Where have the sand dunes gone, I wonder? The beach is eroding. I remember running through them as a child, sharp dry grasses stabbing bare feet, leaping from dune to dune. Stopping as I spy a nest, three blue eggs abandoned within. We take them carefully into our hands and home to nurse the babies inside. They will never hatch, and the stench when they crack open will remain with us forever.

I look back at my own babies, our hands buried deep in wet sand moats. Perfect bucket-made sandcastles make our kingdom. The little one is solemn again, her greenblue eyes wide and earnest, drinking in every word her sister says. Only speaking herself when she knows the words are right.

Their father is wrestling with our Mabel over the entire bough of a fallen tree. She is never as happy as she is here. I understand completely. On the long the trek from Christchurch she sits between my feet, looking up at me with patient eyes.

I remember these moments as I take that walk back down the beach of my childhood, releasing handfuls of her ashes as I go. My daughters are tall, beautiful teenagers now. My husband walks a little ahead of us, we are silent. As the water laps our toes, we take handfuls of our beloved girl and release her into the ocean. Freeing her to the wind, the sand, the sea she loved.

Her last walk, and a quiet, sad return for us back to the car. This beach holds all my best memories, and on the trip back to Christchurch, I can see her again as she runs back from the water to drop her heavy wet doggy weight into my lap so she can lick my face, and tell me she too, loves my beach.

11 October 2012